Major life events influence level of physical activity, may negatively impact heart health – AHA

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Important life events, including entering school, a first job, having a child, getting married or retiring from work, can significantly affect a person’s level of physical activity.
  • Individuals with lower levels of education, who lived alone, who lack access to a safe outdoor space, Black Americans, some members of the LGBTQ+ community and women who are pregnant or new parents are identified as potentially susceptible to lower levels of physical activity in general or during important life events.
  • Patients and health care professionals should engage in more conversations about exercise and ways to stay active, especially during major life events and transitions.

Starting a new school or a new job, having a baby or entering retirement are major life events that significantly affect a person’s physical activity level, which may lead to poorer heart health. Individuals and health care professionals need to be proactive in addressing this issue, according to guidance from a new American Heart Association Scientific Statement published today in the Association’s flagship journal Circulation. A scientific statement is an expert analysis of current research and may inform future guidelines.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

The statement, entitled “Supporting Physical Activity in Patients and Populations During Life Events and Transitions,” focuses on the need to better understand how life changes affect physical activity levels and what can be done to help people maintain good heart health throughout life transitions. The statement writing group members note that because sedentary behavior is an emerging cardiovascular disease risk factor, it’s important to recognize how physical activity levels may impact health during major life events and transitions. The statement also provides guidance for health care professionals to identify, address and promote regular physical activity to patients experiencing significant changes in their lives. Options for community-level interventions to promote physical activity are also explored.

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